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\V. Heffer & Sons, Ltd. 

104, Hills Road. 





This is a Byliny Book. What does " Byliny " mean ? 
It is a Russian word, and it means stories about 
What-has-Been, what happened in Russia in the old 
days long ago. We all read about the Greek heroes 
Jason and Perseus and Theseus and Heracles. The 
Russians had splendid heroes too, who met with 
wonderful adventures. Russia and France and Italy 
and England are fighting side by side a great fight 
for freedom, and these old heroes of Russia fought for 
freedom too, against great barbarian armies of Huns 
and Tartars. The Russians are our brave friends, our 
" Allies," as we call them now, and it is good to get 
to know about their heroes of olden times. 

We all know and honour our French Allies, and 
most of us try to speak French. We are proud to 
read in history how our William the Conqueror came 
over from France and brought with him many good 
laws and customs, and, best of all, beautiful French 
words that have now become English — why, the very 
word beauty came to us from France. But Russia is 
much further away than France, and very few of us 
learn to speak Russian, or even to read it. 


Far the best way to get to know people is to 
learn their language, but it is not quite so easy to 
learn to read Russian as it is to read French, because 
the Russians use different letters. You will see 
Russian letters in the pictures'; they are beautiful, 
delightful things, and some of them are like English, 
so it is exciting to try and make them out, but some 
of them are like Greek, for the Russians always liked 
the Greeks better than the Romans. 

The Russian names of the heroes look a little 
strange at first, but they are not really hard to pro- 
nounce. There are a great many Russian heroes, but 
this book only tells about four of them, Volga and 
Mikiila and Svyatogor and Ilya. Volga is quite short 
and easy, and so is Mikiila, which is pronounced as if 
it was written Mikoolla. Svyatogor looks rather hard, 
but you only have to remember to say it like 
this — Svyatagorr, and you must roll the r's as if you 
were a Scotsman. The Russians put the accent on 
the end of their words much oftener than the English. 
We say I-van and they say Eevdhn. And so it is with 
the last hero, Ilya ; he is pronounced Eelyah. Besides 
the heroes there is Vladimir the king, and he is called 
Vladeemir. The only really hard word to say right is 
Byliny itself, and that you can call Bwileeny, but our 
English lips do not make quite the Russian sound. 

These heroes Volga and Ilya and the rest lived very 
* The Russian titles are translated in the List of Illustrations, p. xv. 



long ago, and their great city was not Petrograd but 
Kiev (Kieff). Petrograd means "Peter's fortified town," 
and we all know how till the war it used to be called 
Peters-burg. But if you look on the map you will 
find no Petrograd, only Kiev on the river Dnieper, 
which winds down to the Black Sea. The old Russian 
heroes used to sail down the river on through the 
Black Sea down to Constantinople, and there of course 
they met the Greeks, and the Greeks taught them to 
be Christians. That was in the days of good King 
Vladimir, and he was reigning before our William the 
Conqueror, hundreds of years before Peter the Great 
came to Holland and England and learnt to build 
boats, and made the great city of Petrograd. 

But though the heroes lived so long ago, they are 
never forgotten. The Russian children in the village 
schools learn about Volga and Ilya as soon as they 
can read, and old minstrels in far away villages beyond 
lake Onega and even in Siberia sing the Byliny, the 
songs of What-has-Been to the peasants as they sit 
round the fire at night. I have seen a picture of one 
of these singers, an old peasant over seventy, with a 
long white beard and shaggy hair and bright deep-set 
eyes. He could not write or read, and his voice was 
rather cracked, but when he sang the old songs he was 
all on fire, and he sang them so splendidly that 
the villagers crowded round to hear. The old men 
say that the young ones will not learn to 
sing the songs because they are gramotnye, "grammar- 
people," who read books and learn to write — what a pity. 


A learned Russian called Hilferding went to North 
Russia to live among the peasants and listen to these 
stories. The peasants are very poor, and are shy with 
strangers, but they learned to love and trust Hilferding, 
and sang their songs to him. It is nice to know that 
he was able to help the peasants, and get them a little 
more money and food. Other learned men had been 
before Hilferding, but nearly all the stories in this 
book were collected by him, so we like to remember 
his name. 

It is the peasants who sing the Byliny, not the 
nobles, and two of the greatest Russian heroes, Ilya 
and Mikiila, are peasants' sons. Mikiila is a ploughman. 
It sounds strange to us that a ploughman should be a 
hero ; but the Russians did not feel like that. They 
love their land with all their hearts. Some of it has 
very black fertile soil, but some of it is very hard and 
full of stones, and sometimes of forests to be cleared, and 
the man who does all this is a hero. The Russians 
sing a hymn to the honour of Mikula ; it ends " Glory 
to thee, good Mikula, the peasant who worked." In 
one of the pictures you see Volga, the prince, come to 
beg Mikula to leave his plough and Join his warriors. 
Mikula was sad, but a man must leave even his work 
to defend his country. Mikula is my favourite of all 
the heroes. 

The peasant heroes, Mikula and great Ilya, are 
very proud and independent, and sometimes not very 
respectful to the King; they seem to think they are 
as good as he is, and so they were. It is their country 


they love, and their beautiful city of Kiev and its 
Church, and in those old days they had not learned 
that the King stands for the country. Ilya is always 
wanting to get to Kiev ; you see him on the cover of this 
book, riding up to the Holy City. It is like Jerusalem 
to him, and he was buried there. But though he 
dreams of the City, he loves the place where he was born, 
near Murom. Murom is a real place still, with forests 
round it and a river full of fish. The peasants in the 
old days owned the land in common, so each village 
was like a little kingdom. Ilya hates the dog, King 
Kalin, because he slays the villagers. 

Svyatogor's name means Holy Mountain. He is 
very strong and huge, like a mountain, but he is 
clumsy and rather boastful. He boasted he could lift 
anything, but he soon found he couldn't. At the end 
he stops boasting, and is good to young Ilya, and gives 
him all his strength, so that makes up. 

The hero who really can do everything is Volga. 
He was a prince, not a peasant, and he was a mighty 
hunter, like Nimrod in the Bible ; and he was a wizard, 
too, and could turn himself into a grey wolf. Some 
people said his father was a wolf, some said he 
was a serpent. The story says " damp earth was 
his cradle," and that sounds uncomfortable, but the 
Russians always call the earth "damp earth." They 
mean that the rain has rained on it, and that it is not 
hard and dry, but full of sap like the trees. Volga 
learnt all his wisdom from the beasts and birds. 
S. Francis used to preach to the birds, but Volga let 


the beasts and birds preach to him, and that is better, 
for the Bible says : 

Ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee ; 

And the fowls of the air and they shall tell thee. 

The first story is about Volga, and in the first 
picture you see him listening to a wise old Bear. 

Jane Ellen Harrison. 

This book is for children, and is no place for bibliography, but we 

should like to own our debt to three books. Chudinov's Byliny in the 

"Russian School Library" was our first introduction (in Russian) to 

the hero-tales; but for Rambaud's La Russie Epique it would have 

been difllcult to put the stories together ; and, last, to the kindness 

of Mr. E. T. Minns we are indebted for the loan of Hilferding's 

invaluable Sbornik, now out of print, and not easily obtainable during 

the War. 

M. C. H. 

J. E. H. 


I. The Storv of Volga 


II. Mikula the Villager's Son . . . . 8 

III. Svyatogor - - - - - - - - 15 

IV. Svyatogor and Ilya of Murom - - - - 17 
V. Ilya of Murom and Nightingale the Robber 30 

VI. The Three Ways 46 

VII. Ilya of Miirom and King Kalin - - - 50 


Volga, Son of Svyatoslav. 
MiJcula, the Ploughman Hero. 
Svyatogor, the Hero. 
Ilyd of Murom, Son of Ivan. 
Vladimir, Prince of Kiev. 
Aprdxia, his Daughter. 
Nightingale, the Robber. 
King Kdlin, a Tartar King. 
Samson, a Hero (Ilya's Godfather). 



Volga, Son of Buslav ----- Frontispiece 

Young Mikiila, the Villager's Son - - - - 11 

Ilya of Miirom, the Peasant's Son - - - - 19 

Map of Ilya's Journeys ------ 23 

He Shot Nightingale the Robber - - - - 37 

Ilya came to Kiev Town - - - "- - - 41 

A Feast of Honour was Spread - - - - 51 

There was the Old Cossack, Ilya of Murom - 57 

^*j,. These titles are literal translations of tJie Ihissian 
inscriptions on the illustrations. 

Hero Tales of Russia. 



THE red sun was going down behind the high hills, 
behind the blue sea. The countless stars 
showed themselves in the clear sky, and the 
bright moon was shining in the heavens when 
Volga the Hero was born in Holy Russia. Damp 
Mother Earth was his cradle. The earth rocked, and 
there was a great storm upon the blue sea, and the 
fish went down into the deep sea, the birds flew up 
into the sky, the great aurochs and the deer fled over 
the hills, the hares and rabbits ran into the thick 
forest, and the wolves and bears fled away among the 
fir trees, sables and martens escaped to the islands, 
because they knew that a hero was born in Russia. 

When Volga was an hour and a half old he spoke 
with a voice like thunder, and said : 

" Come then, O Lady, my mother, young Marfa, 
put no baby-clothes upon me, nor a sash of silk, but 
give me strong steel armour, and on my head put a 
helmet of gold. In my right hand a club, a club made 
heavy with lead of the weight of a hundred pounds." 


When Volga was seven years old his mother had 
him taught to read, and she made him write with a 
pen. And from all the birds and beasts he learnt 
their skill and wisdom and the different tongues of 
all, and he understood the speech of all the beasts of 
the field and forest, and of all the birds and fishes. 

When he was ten years old he learned much 
magic. First he learned to turn himself into a bright 
falcon, and next he learned to turn himself into a grey 
wolf, and the third thing he learned was to turn him- 
self into a brown aurochs, a brown aurochs with 
golden hoofs. 

When Volga was seventeen he called his friends 
and companions together and formed a bodyguard of 
thirty youths save one, and Volgd himself was the 
thirtieth. He was their Chief, and took them with him 
on his journeys. He provided for them all and gave 
them abundance of food and drink, and of sugar sweet- 
meats many kinds. And warm clothes, too, he gave 
them, fur coats made of the skins of marten and sable 
and of panther. When his comrades slept Volga slept 
not. Sometimes he turned himself into a grey wolf 
and ran and leaped in the dark forest and killed 
moose-deer and bears and wolves. Martens and panthers 
were his favourite prey, and he spared neither hares 
nor foxes. And at other times he turned himself into 
a bright falcon, flew far away over the blue sea and 
killed geese and white swans, and the little grey ducks 
he spared not. 


One day when he was at Kiev he called his body- 
guard : 

" My good brave comrades," said he, " listen to 
your big brother, your Chief. Bring a rope of silk 
and make a snare. Put it into the dark forest and 
set the snare upon the damp earth so as to catch 
beasts of the forest, and catch martens and foxes, 
black sables and other wild beasts, and go on snaring 
them for three days and three nights." 

They listened to their big brother, their Chief, and 
they did the thing he had ordered. They took a rope of 
silk to the dark forest and set a snare upon the damp 
earth, but they could not catch a single beast. Then 
Volga their Chief turned himself into a lion-beast. 
He leapt and bounded on the damp earth, through 
the dark forest, and drove out martens and foxes, 
black sables and other wild beasts, big bounding 
hares and little ermines. And Volga took his own 
form again, and became a goodly youth. 

And again when he was at the town of Kiev with 
his body-guard of brave youths he said : 

" My good comrades, my brave lads, listen to your 
big brother your Chief. Take a snare of silk and set it in 
the dark forest at the very tops of the trees, and 
with it catch geese, swans and bright falcons, and little 
singing birds, and go on snaring them for three days 
and three nights." 

And they listened to their big brother their Chief. 
They did the thing he ordered. They took a snare 
of silk, set the snare in the dark forest, at the very 


tops of the trees, but they could not catch a single 

Volga the Chief turned himself into an eagle. He 
flew up beneath the clouds and struck down geese, 
swans, bright hawks, and little singing birds. 

Again when they were at the town of Kiev, Volga 
the Chief said : 

" Good comrades, my brave body-guard, listen to 
your big brother, your Chief. Take sharp axes, good 
for cutting wood, and build a ship of oak; take 
fishing nets of silk and go forth upon the blue sea, 
and fish for all kinds of fish— salmon and white fish, 
pike and dace, and the most precious fish— sturgeon, 
and go on fishing for three days and three nights." 

They listened to their big brother their Chief, and 
they did the thing he ordered. They took sharp axes, 
good for cutting wood, and built a ship of oak. They 
took fishing nets of silk, but they could not catch a 
single fish. 

Volga the Chief turned himself into a big pike 
and swam in the blue sea. He sent up salmon and 
white sturgeon, pike and dace, and the costly fish — 
sturgeon, and drove them into the nets of his men. 

And again, when he was at Kiev with his body- 
guard of good comrades, Volga the Chief said: 

"My good brave comrades, why should we not send to 
the country of the Tartars to find out what the Cham is 
thinking of? For the Cham may be thinking of 
something. And what if he were thinking of riding 


into Holy Russia ? Now, whom shall we send ? If we 
Bend an old man he will go slowly, and we shall have 
long to wait. If we send a middle-aged man he will 
tarry and drink by the way; and if wo send a boy he 
will stop and play. It seems as if Volga will have to 
go himself!" 

Then Volga the Chief turned himself into a little 
bird and flew up beneath the clouds. He flew on and 
soon came to the country of the Tartars. He came to 
the house of the Tartar Cham and perched at the 
Cham's own window and listened to his secret talk. 

The Cham said to his wife : 

" Now I tell you, my Queen, I know what I know. 
In Russia the grass grows not as it used to grow. 
The flowers bloom not as before. Volga must be dead 
and gone." 

The Queen said : 

" Come now, Santal, Cham of Tartary, the grass 
grows in Russia just as before. The flowers bloom 
in Russia just as before. I dreamed in the night — 
in dreams one sees all things. It seemed that from 
the East, that dear country, a bird was flying — a 
small singing bird — and from the West — the old 
country — after the little bird there flew a black crow. 
They flew together over the open plain, and they were 
pecking at each other, and the little singing bird was 
pecking the black crow, and she pulled out his feathers, 
and all were carried away on the wind." 


And the Cham Santal of Tartary answered her : 
" Oh, my Queen ! I am thinking of riding soon to 
Holy Russia with my army, and I shall take nine 
cities and give them to my nine sons, and for myself 
I shall bring back a costly fur coat." 

But the Queen said: 

"You will not take nine cities or give them to your 
nine sons, and you will not bring back for yourself a 
costly fur coat ! " 

The Cham of Tartary answered in a rage: 

" Oh, you old devil ! You were dreaming and saw 
yourself in your dream ! " 

And he struck her on her white face, and again 
he struck her on the other cheek. He threw the 
Queen down upon the brick floor, and threw her 
down a second time, and said : 

" I shall ride to Holy Russia ; I shall take nine 
cities, and give them to my nine sons ; and for myself 
I shall bring back a costly fur coat." 

Volga the Chief flew down from the window-ledge 
to the ground and turned himself into a grey wolf and 
jumped into the stable yard. He picked out all the 
good horses and tore out the throat of every one. 

Then Volga turned himself into a little ermine and 
slipped into the armoury, where the Cham kept a great 
stock of weapons for his men. Volga broke all the 
tough bows, tore out the silken bow strings, destroyed 
the sharp arrows, bit notches in the sharp swords, and 
bent the steel maces into a bow. Then he turned 


himself again into a little bird and soon flew back to 
Kiev town, where he turned himself back into his own 
shape, and was once more a goodly youth. 

Volga came to his body-guard of good comrades. 

" My brave comrades," said he, " let us go to the 
land of the Tartars ! " 

And they went to the land of the Tartars, and 
they took all the Tartar army prisoners. 




NEXT we come to the story of Mikiila, the 
villager's son, and how he meets with Volga 
and joins his band of heroes. Young Volga 
had an uncle who was a prince in the land, and the 
prince gave Volgi for his own three towns, and the 
towns were to pay him a yearly tribute, and so he set 
out with his body-guard of brave youths to collect this 

Volga set out, and as he rode through the free and 
open plain he heard a ploughman in the open field. 
The ploughman's plough could be heard scraping over 
the ground and scrunching over the stones, but the 
ploughman and his plough were out of sight on the 
boundless plain. Volga rode towards the ploughman 
all day from morning till evening with his brave body- 
guard, but he could not come up with the ploughman. 
And Volga rode on the whole of another day, another 
day from morning till evening, but he could not come 
up with the ploughman. The ploughman was ploughing 
the field and still drove on. The ploughman's plough 
scraped on and the ploughshare creaked over the 
stones, but still Volga could not come within sight of 
him, and on the third day Volga and his comrades 


rode from morning till midday, and at midday they 
came up with the ploughman in the open field. The 
ploughman was ploughing in the field, and on he 
drove. From edge to edge he swept the long furrows. 
When he reached the edge of the field he could 
not see the other edge. He cast out the stumps 
and stones, and all the large stones he piled up in 
a trench. 

The ploughman had a light bay mare, and the 
stock of his plough was of maple wood. His mare was 
harnessed with ropes of silk. 

When Volga came up with the ploughman he 
spoke to him and said : 

" God help thee, good ploughman, to plough the 
field and till the ground, and to do thy labour, to 
sweep the furrows from edge to edge of the field, 
and to turn out the stumps and stones from the 

The ploughman looked at Volga and said: 

" Here comes Volga with his brave body-guard ! Yes, 
I need the help of God to do my peasant's work ! Is 
it far thou goest, Volga, and whither dost thou go 
with thy brave body-guard?" 

"Well, good ploughman, I am going to town to 
collect the tribute. First I go to Gurchevitz town, and 
next I am going to Orechovitz, and then to a third 
town, Krestyanovitz." 

" Well, my Lord Volga," said the ploughman, " I 
was in town not long since on my bay mare, and 1 
brought away with me from the town two bags of 


salt, only two bags of salt, each of fourteen hundred 
pounds weight, and the peasants there are all thieves; 
they asked me for threepence for toll. But I had my whip 
for the journey, and I paid them their toll with my whip." 

"Now come with me, good ploughman," said Volga, 
"come and join my body-guard ! " 

And the good ploughman straightway unfastened 
his ropes of silk, took his mare from the plough, and 
got on her back. 

Volga's body-guard were all mounted on their good 
horses and were setting off, but the ploughman stopped 
Volga and said : 

"Now, Volga, I left the plough in the furrow; 
would it not be better to pull the plough out of the 
ground and shake the earth from the ploughshare, 
and throw the plough behind the broom bush? Not for 
fear of any passing travellers who might take it, but 
on account of the good-for-nothings in the village 
who might meddle with my plough." 

Young Volga ordered five strong young men out 
of his brave body-guard to pull the plough out of the 
ground, to shake the earth from the ploughshare, and 
throw the plough behind the broom bush. The five 
strong young men rode up to the plough of maple 
wood, they turned the plough about by the shaft, but 
could not pull the plough out of the ground, or shake 
the earth from the ploughshare, and throw the plough 
behind the broom bush. 

Young Volga then sent from his brave body-guard 
a whole half-score to pull the plough out of the ground, 







to shake the earth from the ploughshare, and throw 
the plough behind the broom bush. They turned the 
plough round by the shaft, but could not pull the 
plough out of the ground, or shake the earth from the 
ploughshare, or throw the plough behind the broom 

Young Volga then sent his whole brave body- 
guard to pull the plough out of the ground, shake the 
earth from the ploughshare, and throw the plough 
behind the broom bush, but, though they tried their 
hardest, they could not pull the plough out of the 
ground, or shake the earth from the ploughshare, and 
throw the plough behind the broom bush. Then the 
good ploughman came riding up upon his light bay 
mare to this plough of maple wood. He took hold of 
the plough with one hand, pulled the plough out of 
the ground, shook the earth from the ploughshare, and 
threw the plough into the broom bush. 

Again they all mounted their good steeds and rode 
on. The ploughman's mare went on at a trot, but 
Volga's horse had to gallop to try to get up to the 
ploughman's mare, and Volga's horse was left behind. 
Volga began to wave his cap, and he shouted: 

" Stop, good ploughman. If that mare of yours were 
a horse, I would give five hundred for that mare." 

The ploughman answered him: 

" Stupid is Volga, the son of Svyatoslav. I took the 
mare as a foal from the dam, and I paid five hundred 
for that mare when she was a foal. If the mare were 
a horse, she would be priceless ! " 



Said Volga, the son of Svyatoslav: 

" Here, good ploughman-farmer, by what name art 
thou called ? What is thy father's name, and whence 
comest thou?" 

And the ploughman answered him: 

"Well now, Volga, son of Svyatoslav, I plough the 
fields for rye, I build my ricks, I stack my corn, I lead it 
home ; when I've brought it home, I grind the corn, I 
split wood, and I brew beer. When I have brewed 
beer I give it to the peasants to drink. And the peasants 
call me Young Mikula, the villager's son!" 





THERE was once a great Russian Hero who was 
so big and strong that no one could stand up 
against him, and he fancied that with his great 
strength he could do anything. 

One day he made up his mind to go out for a ride 
on the plain, the great open plain in Russia, where one 
can ride for miles without seeing anything but the 
long waving feather grass. 

He saddled and bridled his good horse, got upon his 
back and rode out on the open plain. In his heart he 
was glad; yes, he was glad — yes, and overflowing with 
strength, and he said to himself: 

" So strong do I feel that if I could find something 
to take hold of I could lift up the whole world ! " 

He rode on a long way and presently saw another 
man on horseback ahead of him. The man did not look 
round, but he let fall a small wallet such as a man 
often carries across his shoulder or across his horse. 
Svyatogor saw it lying on the road and tried to push 
it away with the end of his whip ; it did not move. 
He bent over and touched the wallet with his fingers, 
but he could not move it. He stooped down from his 



horse and grasped the wallet with his hand, but he 
could not lift it. 

"Many years have I journeyed upon this earth," 
said he, " but never have I come upon so strange a 
thing. Such a wonder have I never seen. A little 
wallet, a bag, that will not be pushed away, that cannot 
be moved out of the way, and that cannot be lifted 

The hero got off his good horse, stooped and 
grasped the bag with both hands ; he lifted it a little 
higher than his knees, but he sank down into the 
earth as far as his knees, and, not tears, but blood, 
ran down his white face, and as he sank down he 
could not rise again. 

The man who was riding in front turned round 
and rode back to him. 

Svyatog6r asked : 

"What was in that wallet to make it so heavy?" 

The man answered : 

" The weight of the whole world." 

" Who art thou ? " asked Svyatogor. 

" I am Mikula, the villager's son." 





NEAR the town of Murom in Russia there lived 
long ago a farmer called Ivan, with his wife 
and family. He and his wife and his sons and 
daughters worked hard in the fields, all but one son, 
Ilya, who was always sitting at home. For thirty 
years Ilya had been sitting at home because he could 
use neither hands nor feet. 

One day he was sitting by the window as usual, 
when two wandering pilgrims came passing by. They 
were both too lame and old to work, but they had 
made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land and now walked 
about the country singing psalms and living upon the 
food and money that kind folk gave them. They saw 
Ilya at his window and called out : 

" Ilya ! Ilya of Murom, open wide the gate for the 
pilgrims ; let us into thy house." 

Ilya of Miirom answered : 

" Well now, good pilgrims, I cannot open the gate, 
for I have been sitting here these thirty years. I can 
use neither hands nor feet." 

Again the pilgrims called to him : 

*' O Ilya, rise up upon thy nimble feet. Open 
wide the gates and let the pilgrims in to visit thee in 
thy house." 



Ilji stood up upon his feet, as though nothing ailed 
him. He opened wide the gates and let the pilgrims 
into the house. They came in, crossing themselves like 
good Russians, and bowed low when they were in the 

" Pray give us a drink, Ilya," they said. 

Ilyd brought them a large bowl of honey drink; 
it held about a pailful and a half, and he offered it to 
the pilgrims. They took it and drank, and then offered 
it to Ilya. He drank the bowlful and felt a rush of 
warmth throughout his body, his hero's heart burned 
within him. 

"What dost thou feel, O Ilya?" asked the pilgrims. 

Ilyd bowed to the ground before the pilgrims and 
answered : 

" I feel great strength within me." 

" Bring another drink, Ilya," said the pilgrims. 

And Ilya brought another cupful, and offered it to 
the pilgrims. They offered it to Ilya, and Ilya 
emptied the cup without drawing breath. 

" How dost thou feel now, Ilya ? " asked the 

" I feel great strength, but only half as much as 
before," answered he. 

Then the wandering pilgrims said : 

" O Ilya, thou wilt be a great hero, and it is not 
written that thou shouldst die in battle. Fight thou 
with all the heroes and the bold warrior women of the 
plain, and defend thyself against them; only go not 
out to fight with the hero Svyatogor, for with his 



strength he could carry the earth; and fight not with 
the hero Samson, for he has upon his head seven hairs 
of angels ; also fight not with the race of Mikula, for 
damp Mother Earth loves him. Neither go after Volga, 
son of Svyatoslav; he will overcome thee, not by force, 
but by craft and wisdom. Now rise up, O Ilya, mount 
thy horse, and ride out into the free and open plain. 
Buy the first foal thou seest with its dam, and in 
three months' time thou mayst put on the saddle. 
Feed him on millet and maize ; walk him about for 
three months, then keep him for three nights in the 
garden, and roll the foal three mornings in the dew. 
Lead him to a high fence, and when he will readily 
leap the fence both from this side and the other, then 
ride him where thou wilt, he will carry thee." 

Then the pilgrims vanished, and presently Ilya's 
father and mother came in from their work in the 
fields. His brother and sisters came in also from their 
work, and his father and mother were glad indeed to 
see that Ilya could walk as if nothing had ever ailed him. 
Then from joy they became sad again, and said : 

" Thirty years has Ilya been sitting on the bench 
as if he had neither hands nor feet ! " 

And Ilya said to his father: 

"Where have you been working to-day, father?" 

But his parents only said : 

"Glory to Thee, O Lord! Thirty years has Ilya 
been sitting by the stove, and was he not without 
hands or feet ? " 



And Ilya asked again : 

"But you, father and mother, where have you 
been working on the farm?" 

" Well, Ilya," answered his father, " we are working 
in the field by the stream ; we are clearing it for 
ploughing. It is the field three fields from home." 

After they had dined Ilya said to his parents: 

" Now, dear father and mother, take me to the 
water meadow. Show me my bit of work." 

And his parents took him down to the water 
meadow, and Ilya said : 

" Show me how far you will plough here," and 
they showed him the boundary and sat down to rest. 

But Ilya seized the brushwood by handfuls and 
cut it down by the roots and threw it all on to a 
pile on the edge of the field. And he worked so 
hard and so fast that the field was cleared in a 
quarter of the time that it would have taken his 
father to finish the work. The father and mother were 
asleep, for they were tired by the long morning's work, 
but they awoke when Ilya came towards them, saying : 

" Come, father and mother, is not your field well 
cleared for the ploughing ? Now I must say good-bye 
to home ! " 

Then Ilya saddled his good horse and put on the 
bridle, and his father and mother gave him their 
farewell blessing. 

He rode away through the open plain till at last 


Palace . 






of- '3 












The J0URNEy<5of 

/^iVer Dmejver. 

Black 3ecL 


he came to a high mountain. When he reached the 
high mountain he climbed up it and then lay down to 
rest, and he slept for twelve days the sleep of a hero. 
When he awoke he saw at a distance a white tent 
standing beneath a tree. He mounted his horse again 
and rode a long way through the plain towards the 
white tent. This tent stood beneath the shade of a 
great green oak tree upon another hill. In the tent 
was a great bed seventy feet long and forty-two feet 
wide. Ilya tied up his horse to the oak tree and lay 
down upon that hero's bed, and went to sleep. Now 
the sleep of a hero is sound, and Ilya slept for three 
days and three nights. 

On the third day his good horse heard a terrible 
noise from the north. Mother Earth rocked, the dark 
forest shook, the rivers overflowed their steep banks. 
Ilya's good horse struck the ground with his hoofs, but 
could not waken Ilya of Miirom. At last the horse 
spoke to him in a human voice : 

" Ilya of Miirom ! thou knowest not that danger 
is near thee. The hero Svyatogor is coming to his 
tent. Let me loose that I may flee across the open 
plain, and thou mayest climb up into the green oak 

Ilya untied his horse's bridle and set the good horse 
free to gallop across the plain ; and then he climbed 
up into the oak tree. From the oak tree he saw the 
hero Svyatogor coming on his great horse. The hero 
was taller than a standing forest, and his head nearly 
touched a moving cloud. On his shoulder he carried 



a great chest of glass. Ho came down from his horse 
and placed the chest on the ground and opened it 
with a golden key. Out of the chest came the hero's 
wife. So lovely was she that no such beauty had ever 
been seen or heard of in the whole white world. 

Very tall she was and elegant, and delicately did 
she walk. She had eyes like the eyes of a bright 
falcon, eyebrows of black sable, and waving black hair. 
As soon as she came out of the great chest she set to 
work to lay the table for her husband's dinner. She 
spread a bright chequered table-cloth and took from 
the chest a bottle of honey drink and a cup and 
sweetmeats full many, and placed them upon the 
chequered cloth. 

After he had eaten and drunk, Svyatogor lay down 
to sleep on his great bed in the tent, but his wife 
went to walk on the open plain. She caught sight of 
Ilya in the oak tree and would have him to come down 
and talk to her. When her husband suddenly woke 
up she put Ilya into her husband's pocket to hide 
him. Svyatogor stood up and put his wife back into 
the glass chest and lifted it on to his shoulder again. 
He called up his horse and got upon his back and set 
off to ride, but soon the horse stumbled, and Svyatogor 
was vexed and asked why he was stumbling. 

"This morning," said the horse in a human voice, 
"I was carrying a hero and a hero's wife, but 
now I am carrying two heroes as well as the hero's 



Svyatogor looked round and saw no one, but putting 
his hand into his pocket there he found Ilya. The 
hero asked Ilya whence he came. Ilya told him the 
truth, and Svyatogor was exceeding angry and killed 
his wife for trying to deceive him. 

That Ilya had dealt straightly pleased the hero 
Svyatogor, and there arose a great friendship between 
them, Svyatogor exchanged crosses with Ilya in token 
of friendship, and called Ilya his younger brother. He 
taught Ilya all the handling of weapons, how to use 
his mace and his bow and arrows and spear in 
fighting, and also all the ways of travel of the heroes. 
Ilya had called up his good horse from the plain by a 
loud whistle, and the two heroes, the old Svyatogor 
and the younger Ilya of Miirom, rode on together 
through the open plain till they came to a great tomb 
built of stone. Upon the tomb was written these 
words : — 

"He who is fated to lie in this tomb will exactly 
fit it." 

Ilya lay down in the tomb, but it was too long and 
too wide for him, and at once he sprang out of it. 

The giant hero Svyatogor lay |down there, and the 
tomb just fitted him. 

" The tomb is just made for me," said the hero, 
" Take the lid of the tomb, Ilya, and cover me." 

Ilya answered : 



" I will not take up the lid of the tomb, O, my 
big brother. I will not cover thee. This is a foolish 
jest of thine — thou wilt bury thyself." 

And Svyatogor took the lid and covered himself up 
in the tomb, but when he tried to lift the lid off again 
he could not move it. He struggled and strove to lift 
it, but could do nothing. Then he called to Ilya : 

" O, my young brother ! It seems that my fate 
has found me. I cannot raise the lid. Try thou to lift 

Ilya of Miirom tried hard to raise the cover, but 
what could he do ? 

Then said Svyatogor the hero : 

" Take my sword of steel and strike across the lid 
of the tomb." 

Ilya tried to lift Svyatogor's great sword, but could 
not — it was too heavy for him — and he had to say : 

" I cannot lift thy sword, O, my brother ! " 

Svyatogor then called to him : 

" My little brother, bend down to this small chink 
in the tomb, and I will breathe upon thee the spirit of 
a hero." 

Ilya bent down to the chink and Svyatogor the 
hero breathed upon him his hero's spirit. Ilya felt 
that his former strength had become three times as 
great as before. He took the sword of steel and struck 
a blow across the lid of the tomb. By this blow 
sparks were struck, but on the place where he struck 
the lid there grew a band of iron. 

The hero Svyatogor called to him again, saying: 



" My young brother, I am suffocating ; try again 
to strike the lid lengthwise." 

Ilya struck the cover lengthwise with the great 
sword, but again where he struck there grew a band 
of iron. 

Then the hero Svyatogor spoke to him, saying: 

" My young brother, I am suffocating. Stoop down to 
the chink and I will breathe upon thee and will give 
thee all my great strength." 

But Ilya answered : 

"If I had all thy strength, O, my big brother. 
Earth would not bear me." 

Then said the hero Svyatogor: 

" Thou hast done well, little brother, in that thou 
didst not do my last bidding. I should have breathed 
upon thee with the breath of the dead, and thou wouldst 
have lain dead by me. Now, farewell; take my sword 
of steel, but lead my good horse to my tomb ; none 
but I must own that horse." 

Then came from the chink the last breath of the 
hero. Ilya said farewell to his friend, girded on his 
sword of steel, but left the hero's horse by his master's 
tomb, and he rode away into the free and open plain. 





The green oak bows not down to the earth, 
Leaves of paper do not grow. 

ILYA had made up his mind to go to Kiev town 
to seek service with the gracious Prince Vladimir, 

but before setting out on that long journey 
he wished to see his father again and ask for his 
blessing, so he rode back to Miirom and to his old 
home. He found his old father there and greeted him, 
saying : 

" Come thou, my own dear Father ! I am here 
to ask for thy blessing. I go to glorious, royal Kiev 
town to pray at the sanctuary of Kiev and to pledge 
myself to Vladimir the Prince, to serve him in faith 
and in truth, and to uphold the Christian faith." 

The old farmer Ivan blessed Ilya and said: 

"I give thee my blessing for the good work, but for 
evil work no blessing I give. Go thou on the right 
road, and do no harm to any woman whether she be 
Christian or Tartar." 

Ilya of Miirom bowed to the earth before his father, 
and said farewell to his mother and his sisters and 
brothers, and then he mounted his good horse and rode 



through the open plain. With his whip he struck his 
horse on the curved hind quarter and his restive steed 
was wroth and suddenly sprang from the earth and 
bounded higher than an upright tree, almost as high as 
a moving cloud. At the first bound he passed twelve 
miles, at the second bound he came to a well. By the 
well Ilya cut down a green oak tree, and beside the 
well he built a small chapel, and upon the chapel he 
wrote his name, 


SO that if some strong and mighty hero should ride 
that way, he should know the name of the builder of 
that chapel. 

At the third bound Ilya's horse brought him to the 
town of Chernigov. Near Chernigov there stood a 
countless host of Tartars, and at their head were three 
Princes, each with the strength of forty thousand. On 
seeing this vast horde the hero's heart grew hot within 
him, and he could not control his longing to fight. 
His heart was filled with fires, and it burned too as 
if scorched by frost. Then he spoke and said : 

"I desire not to go against my father's wish, or 
knowingly to disregard his command." 

Then he took in his hand his battle-sword and 
taught it to take a walk through the army. Where 
he turned, it opened out a street, and when he turned 
round there was a great open space. Ilyd made his 
way to the three princes, and spoke thus to them : 



" Come, my three king's sons ! Shall I take you away 
as prisoners, or shall I cut off your warlike heads? 
If I take you away as prisoners, I must travel over 
roads that I know not and must carry bread, but if 
I take oii. your heads the kingly race will be destroyed. 
If you will go home to your own country, you will 
spread such report of me that it will be known all 
over Russia, and you will tell it everywhere that in 
Holy Russia there are strong and mighty heroes." 

The Governor of Chernigov saw Ilya and said: 

" This Lord has vanquished our tyrant and cleansed 
our glorious city of Chernigov," and he spoke to his 
princes and nobles and said : 

"Go ye and call in this goodly hero to eat bread 
and salt with me." 

And the princes and nobles came forth to greet 
Ilya of Murom and said : 

" Come now, thou stalwart and goodly hero, and 
tell us by what honoured name thou art called, and 
what is thy renowned father's name?" 

" They call me by the name of Ilya, but I am 
honoured as the son of Ivan," said Ilya. 

" Come, Ilya of Murom," said the princes and nobles, 
" come to our Governor, he sends us to invite thee to 
eat bread and salt with him." 

But Ilya wished to be on the way to Kiev and 
answered with little ceremony: 

"I will not come to your Governor; I wish not to 
eat bread and salt with him. Show me the straight 
road to glorious, royal Kiev town." 



So they had to let him go on his way, and they 
showed him the straight road to Kiev across the open 

Farther, farther upon on the open plain waves the 
feather grass in the breeze, and there upon the open 
plain, among old folk, mothers and men, rode the Old 
Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, and the horse he rode was 
like a fierce wild beast and he himself like a bright 

Now the old hero carried no money, only seven 
thousand golden ducats had he with him, and of small 
money, forty thousand pieces. And the horse the hero 
rode was priceless. Why was the hero's horse priceless? 
Because these was no price for the horse. 

When he came to a river he looked for no ford. 
Now the river was a full mile wide, but the good 
steed leapt from bank to bank. Then Ilya saw a village 
near by and the villagers — brigands, as we say in our 
Russian tongue — rode out after the hero. They swept 
round him and tried to rob him, tried to part him 
from his life and soul. 

Then said Ilya of Miirom, son of Ivan : 

" Oh come, brother villagers, no reason have ye to 
kill an old man like me. And ye shall take nothing 
from the old man." 

He took from his saddle his tough bow and 
brought out from his quiver a sharp arrow. He bent 
his bow and fitted the arrow to the silken string, and 



shot — not at the village folk — brigands though they 
were — for he would have been loth to slay them, but 
he shot at the green oak tree; and the bow-string 
sang in the tough bow, the villagers fell from their 
horses, the arrow struck the crackling green oak tree 
and shattered the oak into chips and shavings. By 
this heroic deed of thunder the brigand villagers were 
filled with fear, and for five hours they lay without 
sense, and Ilya made sport of them. 

" Come, come, good youths, you village brigands ! 
Why do you lie half the night there upon the damp 
€arth? Why go off to sleep and sleep half the night? 
On my way here I passed many people both on 
horseback and on foot; you have let many a good 
chance escape you." 

The goodly youths stood up upon their nimble feet 
and threw themselves at Ilya's feet and said : 

"O thou brave hero! come and join our band and 
be thou our chieftain." 

The good hero, Ilya of Miirom, answered them : 

"I desire not to join your band; I am on my way 
to Kiev town, to Vladimir the Prince, to help him, 
and to fight and defend him." 

The bold hero rode on through the open plain till 
he came to a pillar of white oak. On the pillar this 
w^riting was written: 

"To ride straight on — only five hundred miles. 
But making a round — seven hundred miles." 



Ilya looked at this writing and said : 

" If I ride straight, I shall cease to live ; this way 
I can neither ride nor walk nor fly. Nightingale the 
Robber sits in his nest upon the seven oaks, and the 
robber-dog will seize me at the seventh mile." 

Ilya stood still to think what he should do. 

" The straight horse-road is broken up, the little 
bridge of white hazel is broken down. It would be no 
honour to me, or glory to my knighthood to ride by 
that roundabout way. It is better^ to ride by the 
straight road." 

At once he got down from his good steed; with 
one hand he led his horse, while with the other he 
put planks across the stream for a bridge — that bridge 
of white hazel. 

The straight road he mended, and he rode on till 
he came near the clump of seven oak trees upon which 
Nightingale the Robber had built his great nest. 

Nightingale the Robber was sitting upon his nest 
of twisted boughs upon the seven oak trees, and Ilya 
rode up to the oak trees. The robber-dog tried to 
seize him just as he had come to the seventh mile, 
and Nightingale the Robber roared like a wild aurochs, 
and the villain whistled like a nightingale, and the 
robber-dog howled like a dog. 

And at these sounds Ilya's good steed fell upon 
his knees with terror at the roar of the aurochs, 



and the whistle of the nightingale, and the dog-like 
howling of the robber - dog. Ilya struck his horse 
between the ears and also struck him upon the flank, 
saying : 

" Oh thou food for wolves, thou grass-bag ! Hast 
thou never heard the roar of an aurochs? and hast 
thou never heard the whistle of a nightingale, and 
the howling of a robber-dog?" 

The hero did not sit still but quickly bent his 
strong bow, took a sharp arrow from his quiver and 
shot the arrow at Nightingale the Robber as he sat 
there in his nest on the seven oak trees. The arrow 
hit Nightingale the Robber in the right eye and came 
out at the left ear, and Nightingale the Robber fell 
from his nest down upon the damp earth. 

Then Ilya took Nightingale the Robber and tied 
him to his Circassian stirrup and made him walk 
beside the horse towards Kiev town. Presently they 
came to the house of Nightingale the Robber. It was 
a big house in a large yard, and round the yard was 
a high iron fence with spikes on the railings, and upon 
every spike was set the head of a hero; for Nightingale 
the Robber killed all that passed that way. 

Nightingale's children caught sight of their father 
and called out: 

"Look! father is bringing a man." 

And Nightingale's young wife looked from the 
window and said : 




" A strange man is carrying off your dear father." 

And she called to some men who were idling about 
the yard and said : 

"Will you not take him from this wanderer on 
the road? Is your dear father nothing to you? He 
has fallen into the power of this horseman. It would 
be better to take a cup full of red gold, and another 
of pure silver, and a third cup full of round pearls. 
Go now and offer them as a ransom. Speak to this 
horseman and persuade him. Coax him and talk him 
over so that he may release Nightingale." 

And they rushed into the house, and Nightingale's 
wife took the keys and went down to the deep vaults 
where all Nightingale's treasure was stored, and they 
filled a cup full of red gold, and another with pure 
silver, and a third with round pearls, and they went 
out to Ilya with flattering words and tried to coax 
him and talk him over, saying : 

"O thou bold hero, good youth, give us back our 
dear father and we will give thee gold and silver!" 

Ilya received these messengers and talked to them 
thus : 

" Look here, brothers, you who work for gain, 
I will not give you your dear father; he would only 
turn brigand again and rob the travellers passing this 

And Ilya rode on to Kiev town with Nightingale 
the Robber by his side, still tied to the stirrup so that 



he could not run away. Ilya hurried on, for he would 
fain be at Kiev in time for the service on Easter 
morning; but he could not get there in time. When 
he reached Kiev he rode into the wide courtyard of 
the Prince's palace. He tied up his good horse to the 
gold ring on a carven pillar, but did not take off 
either the saddle or the bridle, and he left Nightingale 
the Robber still tied to the stirrup. 

Then Ilya walked quickly through the new 
entrance, through the guard room and into the hall. 
There he crossed himself like a good Russian, and 
made his bow as he came into the hall. The steward 
of Vladimir the Prince he greeted, and asked him: 

"Where is the Prince Vladimir of royal Kiev?" 

" Prince Vladimir has gone to Mass," was the 

Ilya sat down on the plain wooden bench to wait, 
and in a short time Prince Vladimir came in with his 
nobles and attendants from the Easter service. 

Then they all gave greetings one to the other, and 
each hero greeted the other, and Vladimir spoke to 
Ilya and said: 

"All hail to thee, brave youth, I know not thy 
name or thy father's name. Art thou a Tsar or 
a Tsar's son ? Art thou a king or a king's son ? " 

Ilya answered and said : 

"I am from the town of Miirom. I am the old 
Cossack, Ilya of Miirom." 

And they all sat down at the table to eat bread. 

fl©t]^AAS MAI A 


and they carved and ate white swans, and Ilya began 
to talk and to boast of what he had done. 

" I am a brave hero, I have been riding through the 
eve of Easter Day. I would fain have been in time for 
the Easter Mass, but I could not get here in time for 
Easter morning, for the hour was past. I rode here by 
the straight road, and when I reached the green oaks, 
Nightingale the Robber was sitting upon the seven 
oaks. That ill-doer used to seize upon every one for 
seven miles round. When I came near the oaks 
Nightingale roared like a wild aurochs, and the villain 
whistled like a nightingale, and the robber-dog howled 
like a dog. Then my good horse fell upon his knees 
with fear, but I took out my tough bow, set the sharp 
arrow, and shot Nightingale the Robber. I shot the 
villain through the right eye, and the arrow came out 
by the left ear. Then Nightingale fell upon the damp 
earth, and 1 took the robber and fastened him 
to my Circassian stirrup and brought the villain with 

Vladimir the Prince looked at Ilya and said: 

" It seems to me, my bold youth, that there must be a 
big tavern in this country! Hast thou been drinking 
strong drink? Art thou not making empty boasts, 
good hero?" 

Ilya's wrath grew hot within him, and angrily he 

" Thou it is who art the fool, O Prince of royal 
Kiev! I have Nightingale the Robber here, tied to my 
Circassian stirrup." 



Then all sprang up and rushed out, hurried and 
stumbled against each other as they ran out to see 
Nightingale the Robber. They all spoke and shouted 
together and called out to him : 

"O thou Nightingale the Robber! Roar, O 
Nightingale, like an aurochs ! Thou evil doer, whistle 
like a nightingale ! O thou robber-dog, howl like a 

Nightingale the Robber looked up and said : 

"With you I neither eat nor drink, and I will not 
obey you." 

At once the crowd of courtiers turned back to the 
hall and came to Ily4 of Miirom, bowed low to him 
and craved their boon : 

" O Ilya of Miirom, we beg thee to make 
Nightingale the Robber roar like an aurochs, and 
make the villain whistle like a nightingale, and make 
the robber-dog howl like a dog." 

And Ilya spoke to the Prince and said : 

" O Vladimir, Prince of royal Kiev I Nightingale's 
lips are now sealed together and his mouth is filled with 
dried blood, for my arrow went through his right eye 
and it came out by the left ear. Pray let a bowl of 
strong drink be poured out for him — a bowl weighing half 
a hundredweight, a bowl holding four gallons, and let 
it be given to Nightingale." 

And they poured him out a bowl of strong drink — 
a bowl weighing half a hundredweight, a bowl holding 
four gallons; and they took it to Nightingale the 



Robber. He took the bowl in one hand, drank off 
the bowl of strong drink at one draught, and spoke 
these words : 

" Pour out another bowl of strong beer — a bowl 
weighing half a hundredweight, a bowl holding four 
gallons, and pour out a third bowl of sweet mead — 
a bowl weighing half a hundredweight, a bowl holding 
four gallons." 

And they poured out a bowlful of strong beer, and 
they poured out a bowlful of sweet mead and brought 
both to Nightingale the Robber. He took the bowl 
with one hand and drank off the bowlful at one 
draught. And then Nightingale the Robber was 
drunken, and Ilya of Murom said to him : 

" Now, Nightingale ! Roar, thou robber, like an 
aurochs ; whistle, O villain, like a nightingale ; and 
howl, O dog, like a dog." 

And Nightingale the Robber roared like an aurochs 
the villain whistled like a nightingale, and the robber- 
dog howled like a dog. 

Princes and nobles all lay for dead, but Vladimir 
the Prince of royal Kiev stood up straight and went 
up to Ilya, for the Prince had a boon to ask: 

" Silence Nightingale the Robber, lest he whistle 
again like a nightingale, and my nobles leave me 
here alone." 





ONE day Ilya set off on his good horse for a ride. 
He rode a long way through the open plain 
till he came to the Burning Stone. Three 
lengths beyond the stone there were three paths 
leading this way and that from the Burning Stone, 
and upon the stone was written : 

"Who goes by the first path will be killed. 
Who goes by the second path will find marriage. 
Who goes by the third path will become rich." 

He stopped to consider: 

" By which path shall I go ? Why should a bold 
hero want to be rich? Why should I want to marry? 
I will take the way to be killed." 

So he took that way and rode on for three hours, 
and he rode three hundred miles, and then he came 
to a hill, and at that hill, that high hill, brigands 
began to come up, and there came up forty thousand 
brigands. They began to defy our bold hero, and the 
brave Cossack spoke and hailed them : 

" Come, you forty thousand robbers ! What will 
you take from me, the bold hero? I have not many 



chests of uncounted gold, I have no beautiful young 
wives, I have no fine clothes, I have nothing but a 
good horse, a good horse which cost three hundred ; 
on the horse are trappings worth five hundred ; on 
myself a hero's gear worth a cool thousand." 

When he drew his iron mace of three tons weight, 
he began to defy the robbers, and he killed the forty 
thousand robbers. 

Then the bold hero turned back, and when he 
reached the Burning Stone he altered the writing 
thus : 

" If thou goest by this road thou wilt not be 

And he said : 

" I shall go by the road to marriage." 

So Ilya took the second path and rode on for just 
three hundred miles. He rode on always through the 
plain, that open plain, through the open plain, the green 
meadow, through those open plains and through green 
meadows till he came to a wonderful and a strange 
thing. If we called it a town it would be too small ; 
if we called it a village it would seem too large, but 
there stood a palace built of white stone. When Ilya 
reached the broad palace yard there came a most 
beautiful young princess from the palace of white 
stone. She came to meet the brave hero and took him 
by his white hands, kissed him with her sweet lips, 



led him into the white stone palace, and made him 
sit down at the oaken table, where a feast was spread. 
Ilya ate and drank in plenty, and stuffed himself the 
whole day long till evening, when he rose up from 
the oaken table and spoke to the princess and said : 

"O thou enchanting and beautiful lady, where 
are thy warm sleeping chambers? Where are the 
beds of carved wood? Where are the soft feather 
beds? I am an old man and weary, and I would fain 

And the princess led him to a warm chamber, but 
the old man stood by the bed and shook his head and 

"Much have I travelled through Holy Russia, but 
so strange a thing have I never seen. It seems to me 
that that bed is a trap." 

Suddenly he seized the princess by her white 
hands and threw her against the brick wall against 
which the bed stood. The bed of carved wood turned over 
and the princess fell down into a deep dungeon below. 

The old Cossack walked out of the palace, and out- 
side he found the door of the deep dungeon. Then he 
took the golden keys, went on and unlocked the deep 
dungeon and set free many goodly youths and brave, 
and many strong and mighty heroes, but the beautiful 
and wicked enchantress was killed. And all the rich 
treasure which Ilya found there in that white stone 
palace he bestowed on the good youths and brave, and 
on the strong and mighty heroes. But that white 
stone palace he gave to the flames. 



And then our bold hero rode back again, and 
when he came to the Burning Stone he again altered 
the graven letters and wrote: 

" By that way I went — I was not married." 

" I go," said he, " by the third path, where one will 
become rich." 

And on he rode for three hours, three hundred 
miles he rode, and again he rode through the 
plain, the open plain, the meadow, the green meadow, 
to a place where there were sunk deep pits in the 
ground, all piled up with red gold — red gold, pure 
silver, and fine round pearls. 

Ilya looked at the gold and said : 

" What has a bold hero to do with these riches, 
with this treasure of much uncounted gold?" 

He began to consider: and then he took enough of 
this treasure in this plain, this open plain, to build 
an abbey for prayers to God. He built a church, a 
minster church, ordered the singing of psalms and the 
ringing of bells, and then Ilya said : 

" Let him whose treasure it was go and look for it ! " 
And then the bold hero turned back again ; 
again he rode to that Burning Stone ; again he wrote 
beneath that inscription : 

"Though I rode by that path, I became not rich." 




IN the palace of the gracious Prince Vladimir, in 
royal Kiev town, a great feast of honour was 
spread for many princes and nobles and for the 
strong and mighty heroes and their bold followers, 
men of the plains, and for the stranger merchants and 

The Fair Sun, Prince Vladimir himself, took his 
pleasure there, and gave rich gifts to his guests. To 
some he gave towns, and to others he gave small 
towns, to some he gave villages, and to others he gave 
hamlets, and to Ilya of Miirom he gave a coat of 
marten fur with a collar of sable. 

But Ilya received not the fur coat as an honour; 
he received it without respect and praised it not. He 
took the fur coat into the kitchen and dragged the 
fur coat about the kitchen floor. Yes, and thus he 
talked to the fur coat : 

"Just as I drag about this fur coat, so will I drag 
about that serpent, King Kalin, by his yellow curls. 
And just as I pour strong drink upon this fur coat, 
his heart shall pour forth his hot blood." 

And there was a dark-haired maid there, and she 
reported the matter to Fair Sun, Prince Vladimir, and 


Aa COBD/SHa - TO SblA'5 

nO^tCTHOH HHpg . 


"O Fair Sun, Prince Vladimir! When Ilya of 
Miirom was in my kitchen, he dragged about the coat 
of marten fur; yes, and he said to the fur coat: 

"Just as I drag this fur coat about, so will I drag 
Prince Vladimir about by his yellow curly hair, and, 
just as I pour strong drink upon the fur coat — yes, he 
himself said it to the fur coat — the Fair Sun, Prince 
Vladimir's hot blood shall be poured out by my white 

And the Fair Sun, Prince Vladimir, grew angry, and 
he cried out in a loud voice: 

" Come, my strong and mighty heroes, take Ilya 
away to the dungeon, and put an iron grating there 
and cover it over with logs of oak; yes, and bury him 
with yellow sand." 

And the heroes came to Ilya and said : 

" Now, old Cossack, Ilya of Murom ! Fair Sun 
Vladimir, the Prince, has ordered us to put thee in a 
deep dungeon, and to put an iron grating there, and 
to cover it all over with oak logs, yes, and to bury 
thee with yellow sand." 

And Ilya spoke to them and said : 

" Now, what will ye do with me ? " 

And the heroes said : 

" There is no sun in the heavens. Not one hero 
in Holy Russia. Old Cossack, Ilya of Murom ! O 
that we might take thee out of this bitter captivity ! 
Fair Sun, Prince Vladimir, makes us turn pale." 

Then Ilya mounted his good horse and rode to 



Kiev town. He rode not into Kiev town, but he rode 
to the deep dungeon. 

He got down from his good horse, took ofE the 
Circassian saddle, took off the braided bridle and let 
his brown horse go where God willed. 

Then Ilya was let down into the deep dungeon, 
and they put a grating over; they put it above him 
and placed oak logs all over it, and buried him with 
yellow sand. 

Now the glorious Prince Vladimir had an only 
daughter, and she saw that this was no small matter 
that Prince Vladimir of royal Kiev town had put the 
old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, into that cold dungeon. 
For it might be that he alone would be able to defend 
the Faith and Country; that he alone might defend 
Kiev town ; that he alone might defend the Minster 
Church, might protect Vladimir the Prince and the 
Princess Apraxia. 

So the Princess caused a deep trench to be dug to 
reach the dungeon of the old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom. 
And she commanded that false keys should be made ; 
and she sent people secretly to take to the cold 
dungeon pillows of down and feather beds, and ordered 
them to take warm coverlets too, and changes of 
clothing, and to provide delicate food for the old 
Cossack, Ilya of Murom. But of this had Vladimir the 
Prince no knowledge. 

Now that dog, the Tartar King Kalin, burned to 



be at Kiev town. Even royal Kiev town would he 
destroy, and all the peasants he would cut to pieces, 
and would burn down the churches of God, and also 
cut off the heads of Vladimir the Prince and the 
Princess Apraxia. 

And King Kalin, the dog, sent an envoy to royal 
Kiev town and gave him a letter to deliver, and he 
said to the envoy : 

"When thou goest to royal Kiev town thou wilt 
be an ambassador in Kiev town to the glorious Prince 
Vladimir, Therefore go to the broad courtyard of the 
Prince's palace, and dismount not, but ride in on thy 
good steed. After thou hast ridden through the court- 
yard, then get down off thy steed and go to the palace 
of white stone, and into the great hall of white stone 
and into the dining hall. Go not humbly, but walk in 
with a flourish through the five doors and take not 
thy cap from thy head ; but go up to the oaken table 
and stand opposite Prince Vladimir and place the 
letter upon the golden table before him, and speak to 
Prince Vladimir and say : 

" O Prince Vladimir of royal Kiev town ! Take 
this letter which is sent to thee, and look at what is 
written in the letter and see what is impressed upon 
it. Clean all thy arrow-straight streets and the Courts 
of the Prince in all the town of Kiev, and in all the 
broad streets and alleys of the princedom place sweet 
strong drinks, cask by cask standing close together, 
for those who stand by the dog. King Kalin, with his 
mighty warriors, in thy town of Kiev." 



Prince Vladimir of royal Kiev took the letter sent 
to him, broke the seal and looked at what was written 
therein, and he saw what was in the letter : that he 
was commanded to clean the arrow -straight streets 
and the great Courts of the Prince, and to place 
sweet strong drinks in all the broad streets and all 
the alleys of the princedom. 

Then Vladimir, the Prince of royal Kiev, saw that 
this was no small matter, but a great one, and he sat 
down in his writing-chair and a humble letter wrote he. 

"Thou dog, King Kalin ! Give me the space of 
three years, give me three years and three months, 
three months and also three days, that I may clean 
the arrow-straight streets and the great Courts of the 
Prince, and make sweet strong drinks and place them 
in the town of Kiev and in all the broad streets and 
in in all the alleys of the glorious princedom." 

The Prince sent off this humble letter to that dog, 
King Kalin. And the dog. King Kalin gave him the 
space of three years, three years and three months, 
three months and three days. And day after day the 
rain it rained, and week after week it ran like a river, 
and the time went by — the three years and three 
months and three days ; and then came the dog. King 
Kalin. Came beneath the town of Kiev with his great 

Then Prince Vladimir of royal Kiev began to walk 
up and down, and tears of grief flowed from his bright 






eyes. With a kerchief of silk the Prince wiped his 
eyes, and he spoke these words : 

" The old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, lives no longer, 
none is there to defend the Faith and Country; none 
to defend the Church of God and Kiev town ; none to 
protect Vladimir the Prince and the Princess Apraxia!" 

Then came to him his dear daughter, and spoke to 
him these words : 

" O my dear father, Prince Vladimir of royal 
Kiev, the old Cossack, Ilya of Murom, is yet alive, he 
is alive in the cold dungeon." 

Then Prince Vladimir quickly brought the golden 
keys and went to the cold dungeon, and soon unlocked 
the doors and opened the iron grating. And there was 
the old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, sitting there in the 
dungeon, reading the Holy Gospels. 

And there were down pillows and feather beds, and 
warm coverlets had been brought there, and changes 
of apparel and delicate food provided. 

And the Prince took Ilya by his white hands and 
by his golden ring, and led him from the cold dungeon, 
brought him to his white stone palace, and placed him 
near himself. He kissed Ilya and welcomed him, and 
invited him to the oaken table, and gave him sugar 
sweetmeats to eat and drink made from honey. Then 
spoke the Prince to Ilya these words : 

" Old Cossack, Ilya of Murom ! Taken is our town 
of Kiev. The dog, King Kalin, has surrounded Kiev 



town with his great army. Do thou defend our Faith 
and Country and glorious Kiev town, and defend the 
Church of the Mother of God, and Vladimir thy Prince 
and the Princess Apraxia." 

Then the old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, went out 
from the palace of white stone, and walked through 
the town of Kiev to his dwelling of white stone. He 
asked for his beloved steed, and went to the broad 
yard and into the stable, and looked at his good war 
horse. And Ilya said : 

" My beloved steed ! My trusty and unchanging ser- 
vant ! Well hast thou been looked to, my hero horse." 

He kissed him on his sweet mouth, led the 
good horse from the stable stall and into the fine 
broad courtyard ; and then the old Cossack began to 
saddle his good horse there. Upon the horse he put a 
saddle-cloth, and upon the saddle-cloth he laid a cloth 
of felt ; now the saddle-cloth was of silk, and upon 
the saddle-cloth he laid another cloth, and then the 
Circassian saddle. But the Circassian saddle did not 
hold firmly, and Ilya fastened it by twelve girths of 
silk, and he drew them up with steel pins. And he 
fixed on stirrups of steel and buckles of red gold — not 
for show, but for heroic strength. Drawn up are the 
girths of silk, and they break not; steel and iron bend, 
but break not ; and the buckles of red gold may get 
wet, but they rust not. 

Ilya then got upon his good steed, and took with 



him his hero's weapons. His club of steel took he, 
and his grooved spear, his sharp sabre also, and his 
whip for the journey. And Ilya set out from the town 
of Kiev and rode through the open plain, and up to the 
Tartar army. And when he came near and saw that 
great host, and heard the shouting of the men and 
the neighing of the horses, he began to lose heart. 
And when the old Cossack, Ilya of Murom rode through 
the free and open plain, he could not find out where 
the army ended. He leapt up a high hill, looked round 
on all sides and looked down upon the Tartar army; 
he could see no end or limit to it. 

He came down from that high hill and rode on 
through the free and open plain, and he leapt up 
another high hill and looked towards the western side 
and saw some white tents standing, and by the tents 
stood heroes' horses. He hastened down from that 
high hill and rode through the freedom of the open 
plain, and he came to the white tents. And when 
Ilya got down from his good horse near the white tents, 
there stood the heroes' horses. They were standing by a 
white linen cloth, and on the cloth millet and spring 
corn were scattered. 

Ilya let the silken bridle hang loose on the 
neck of his good hero horse and urged on his horse 
to the white linen, saying : 

" Pleasant indeed would it be to taste it, if the 
heroes' horses will allow him upon the white linen 
cloth to share the millet and spring corn." 



His good horse stood by the linen cloth and began 
to eat the millet and spring corn, and the old Cossack, 
Ilya of Murom went to the white tent. In the tent 
were twelve heroes, and the heroes were all Russian, 
and they sat there eating bread and salt, and they 
were about to dine. 

And Ilya went into the tent and said : 

" A good appetite to you, Heroes* of Holy Russia, 
and to thee, Samson, my dear godfather ! " 

" Come here, my dear godson ! " said his godfather. 
•' Come, old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom. Sit down and eat 
with us." 

And he stood up on his nimble feet to greet 
Ilya of Murom. And they greeted each other and 
kissed each other, and he made Ilya sit at their 
table to eat bread and salt with them. Twelve heroes 
were they, and Ilya was the thirteenth. They all ate 
and drank, and when they had dined they came away 
from the oaken table and made their prayer to God. 

Then the old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, spoke and 

" My dear godfather, Samson, and you, O mighty 
Russian heroes! I pray you saddle your good horses 
and ride out through the free and open plain 
to glorious, royal Kiev town. For before our town of 
Kiev stands that dog. King Kalin with his great army. 
He will lay waste royal Kiev town and cut the peasants 
to pieces. He will send the churches of God up in 
smoke ; and as for Prince Vladimir and Apraxia the 
Princess, he would cut off their turbulent heads. Now, 



come ye and defend the Faith and country, and defend 
our glorious, royal Kiev town, and protect Prince 
Vladimir and Apraxia the Princess." 

And Samson, his godfather, answered him : 
" O my beloved godson, old Cossack, Ilya of 
Murom ! We will not saddle our horses and ride 
through the free and open plain to defend our Faith 
and country, and defend royal Kiev town. We will 
not defend the churches of God or protect Prince 
Vladimir and Apraxia the Princess. For the Prince 
in truth has many princes and nobles, and he gives 
them food and drink and rewards them. Nothing 
have we from Prince Vladimir." 

" O Samson, my dear god-father," said the old 
Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, "this would be no good thing 
on our part, to stand apart when King Kalin lays 
waste Kiev town, and cuts the peasants to pieces, and 
sends the churches of God up in smoke, and cuts off 
the turbulent heads of Vladimir the Prince and the 
Princess Apraxia. Come, saddle your good horses and 
ride through the open plain to Kiev town, to defend 
the Faith and country and glorious, royal Kiev, and to 
protect the churches of God, and Vladimir the Prince 
with the Princess Apraxia." 

But unavailing were Ilya's entreaties ; not one 
hero would join him for the defence of Kiev town 
against the Tartar King and his hosts. Nothing 
had they from Prince Vladimir, so they would not help 



When Ilya saw that he could not persuade them, 
he went out from the white tent to his good hero- 
horse, took him by his silken bridle and led him away 
from the white linen cloth, and from the millet and 
spring corn. And Ilya got upon his good steed and 
rode through the free and open plain, and up to the 
great Tartar army. 

No bright falcon is this attacking geese and swans 
and flights of grey ducks, but a Hero of Holy Russia, 
advancing to attack that great host of Tartars. 

He urged on his heroic steed, and rode on through 
the Tartar army. He began to ride over the Tartar 
soldiers and to trample them under his horse's feet, to 
tread them under foot and slay them with his spear. 
He fought with that great army, and beat down men 
as if he were mowing grass. 

His good heroic horse spoke to him in human 
tongue : 

" Come, thou glorious hero of Holy Russia ! If thou 
dost trample down the Tartars, thou canst not by 
thyself conquer this great army. Ride thou up to that 
dog, King Kalin, and to that great host of soldiers. 
With him are mighty heroes and bold warrior-women 
of the plains. That dog, King Kalin has had three 
deep trenches made in the glorious open plain. When 
thou ridest on the free and open plain, thou wilt beat 
down many men of the forces, and when we come to 
the deep trenches I shall leap out of the first trench 
and will bear thee thence. When we come to the next 



trench, I shall leap out and bear thee thence. But at 
the third deep trench I shall leap out, but I shall not 
bear thee out of it; in the deep trench wilt thou 

Now the old Cossack, Ily^ of Murom, liked not this 
thing. In his white hand he took his whip with the 
lash of silk, and beat his horse upon the ribs, and thus 
he spoke to his steed : 

" O thou faithless dog ! I feed and water thee 
and provide for thee, and thou wouldst leave me in 
the open plain, even in those deep trenches ! " 

And Ilya rode on through the free and open plain 
to that great army. And he trampled men under foot 
and speared them with his spear, and beat them down 
like mowing grass. 

And Ilya's strength grew no less, and when he 
came to the deep trench his good horse leapt out 
again and bore Ilyd, thence, and he urged on his hero- 
horse through the free and open plain to that great 
army; and again he trampled the Tartars under foot, 
and speared them and beat them down like mowing 
grass. And Ilya's strength grew no less; he sat his 
good horse and grew no older. And he cut his way 
through with his hero-horse and fell into the second 
trench. His good steed leapt out and bore Ilya thence; 
and Ilyd again urged on his steed through the free 
and open plain, and again he trampled men under foot 
and speared them, and beat down Tartars like mowing 
grass. And Ilyd's strength became no less ; he sat his 
good steed and grew no older; but he fell into the 



third trench. He cut his way through the deep trench, 
and also out of the third trench leapt his good heroic 
steed, but Ilya he bore not out thence, for Ilya slipped 
off his good horse, and in the deep trench he remained. 

And there came the Tartars running to catch the 
good horse, but the heroic steed would not allow 
himself to be taken, but galloped away through the 
open plain. 

Then came the pagan Tartars and fell upon the 
old Cossack, Ilya of Murom, and they chained together 
his nimble feet, and bound his white hands, and the 
Tartars said: 

" Cut off his turbulent head." 

But some of the Tartars said : 

" There is no need to cut off his turbulent head ; 
we will lead Ilya to the dog, King Kd,lin, and what he 
commands that must we do." 

And they took Ilyd through the open plain to that 
pavilion of white linen, and led him in to the dog, 
King Kdlin, and placed him before the King, and spoke 
thus to King Kalin : 

" Now, O King Kdlin, we have taken the old 
Cossack, Ilya of Miirom, and have brought him to thee, 
O King. Do to him as thou wilt." 

Then the dog. King Kdlin spoke to Ily^ and said: 

"Now, thou old Cossack, Ilya of Murom! A young 
puppy have they let loose against my great army ! How 
couldst thou alone overcome my great host? Unchain 
Ilyd's nimble feet and unloose his white hands." 



So the Tartars removed the bonds from his feet 
and hands, and the dog, King Kdlin said : 

" Now old Cossack, Ilya of Miirom ! Sit down with 
me at my table, and eat of my sugar sweetmeats and 
drink of my honey drink. Wear my costly garments, 
and take from my chest of gold what thou needest. 
Serve no longer the Prince Vladimir, but serve the dog, 
King Kiilin." 

And Ilyd answered the King : 

" I will not sit at the same table with thee, nor 
eat thy sugar sweetmeats, nor drink of thy honey 
drinks. I will not wear thy costly garments, nor take 
gold from thy chest. I will not serve thee, thou dog, 
King Kalin, but will serve my Faith and country, and 
defend the churches of God and Vladimir the Prince 
and the Princess Apraxia." 

Then went forth the old Cossack, Ilya of Murom, 
from that tent of white linen, into the free and open 
plain. And the pagan Tartars began to press upon 
him and tried to surround him, hoping to gain 
possession of the old Cossack's gear. Ilya saw that he 
must bestir himself, and he seized a Tartar by his feet 
and began to swing him round, began to strike the 
Tartars with the Tartar, till they began to flee from 
him. And the old Cossack went thus through the 
whole Tartar army, and came forth into the free and 
open plain, and cast the Tartar on one side. 

Then Ilya walked on through the open plain, and 



he had neither horse nor weapons, hut he whistled a 
mighty whistle, and his good steed heard him on the 
open plain, and galloped to the old Cossack his master. 
The old Cossack, Ilya got upon his good steed and 
rode on through the plain till he came to a high hill, 
and he leapt up the hill and looked down towards the 
west. And in the west near the white tents stood 
the good horses of the heroes. Ilya turned that way 
with his good war-horse. He took his strong bow and 
bent it with his white hands. He tightened the bow- 
string of silk, placed the sharp arrow, and into the 
white tent shot he that arrow, saying : 

" Fly, O sharp arrow, fly to the white tent. Take 
the roof of¥ the white tent, and go, thou arrow, to the 
white breast of my godfather. Creep thou into his 
breast and make a scratch, only a small scratch, a 
small scratch, not a large one. He sleeps there and 
takes his ease, and little can I do here alone." 

And he let go the silken bowstring and sent off 
that sharp arrow, and that sharp arrow whistled into 
that hero's white tent. It took the roof off the white 
tent and fell upon the white breast of Samson. It 
crept into his white breast and made but a small 
prick, and Samson, the renowned hero of Holy Russia, 
woke up from his deep sleep and opened his bright 
eyes. Quickly he stood upon his nimble feet and cried : 

** Ho ! my renowned heroes of Holy Russia ! Quickly 
saddle your good horses and mount them. Prom my 
beloved godson has flown a sharp arrow through my 
glorious white tent. From my tent it took the roof, 



and the arrow crept into my white breast, made a 
small i3rick, not a large one. The cross at my neck 
preserved me, Samson, the cross at my neck weighing 
forty stone. Had that cross not been upon my breast, 
my tempestuous head would have been torn o&.." 

Then all those heroes of Holy Russia quickly 
saddled their good horses and rode through the open 
plain, towards Kiev town, to the Tartar army. 

And from the high hill the old Cossack, Ilya of 
Miirom, saw them, as they rode their good horses. He 
came down from the high hill and rode to meet the 
Russian heroes. Twelve in number were the heroes 
and Ilya was the thirteenth. 

They rode up to the Tartar host and pushed on 
their heroic steeds and began to fight the Tartar 
army. And they were trampling on the great army, 
and they came to the linen tent. 

And in the tent that dog, King Kalin was sitting, 
and the heroes said : 

"We will cut off the turbulent head of that 
dog. King Kalin." 

"AVhy should we cut off his turbulent head?" 
said the old Cossack, Ilya of Murom. " We will take 
him to royal Kiev town, to the glorious Prince 

So to the glorious Prince Vladimir at the royal 
town of Kiev they took the dog, King Kalin. To the 
white stone palace they took him, and Vladimir, Prince 
of royal Kiev, took that dog by his white hands and 

;. 69 


made him sit at the oaken table, gave him sugar 
sweetmeats to eat and honey drink to drink. 

And to Vladimir the Prince spoke King Kalin 
these words : 

"Come now, Vladimir, Prince of royal Kiev, do not 
cut off my warlike head. We will write between us a 
great writing, and I, King Kalin, will pay thee tribute 
for ever and ever — I to thee, Prince Vladimir!" 

And then in those good old times they all sang 

And so they had peace for a time, but fresh hordes 
of Tartars still came, and the Russian heroes fought 
them, and sometimes the Russians could not overcome 
the Tartars, and in one of these great fights Ilya, they 
say, was caught away from the fighting, and he was 
turned into stone, and his good horse with him.